Dr. Tifani I. Sanford is the daughter of Mark Sanford and Kathleen Foster, both of St. Louis. She is a graduate of Metro High School and Xavier University.
“I chose to work in health care, along with others, to make a difference, especially in my community,” Sanford said. “There weren’t many Black doctors around in the community that I saw and the ones that I did see you know I was inspired by them.”
Sanford talked about how influential Black physicians were in her upbringing.
“I looked up to them and I wanted to be them, and I wanted to make the difference they made,” Sanford said. “I wanted to always help and give back to my own community in a way that would benefit them.”
Sanford started working for Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers in 2015 as a clinical projects manager. She has worked for the federally qualified health center off and on since she was 14.
“This was really a time that allowed me to grow because it was a career path job opportunity that let me learn a lot in different areas of health care that are not taught in medical school,” she said. “I learned about the different types of health insurance, different health insurance policy measures, how they look at the health center and what they look for their patients to receive.”
The wide-ranging duties in this role included supervising the following departments in the health center: community health workers, quality improvement/clinical measures team, community engagement, outreach team, The Right Time Contraceptive Grant, Breast Health Grant Departments, Hypertension Clinic, and the COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Clinic.
“From the outreach point, I learned a lot about what the community needs and [could] see the different resources that were needed and how we could provide them,” she said. “And then I was over grant positions where I was over budgets and learned how to forecast what was needed to complete a project and maintain a budget.”
In June of 2020, Sanford was assigned to manage the COVID-19 Response Team. She manages testing accommodations, vaccine distribution, and getting patients their results promptly.
“At that time, it had been the biggest project I was ever assigned to work and what was interesting about it was that I had to hire my workers,” she said. “I was excited to take it because it was something new and something I knew I could do.”
Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers created a drive-through, COVID-19 testing site at its north county location.
“We were out there and were doing good work and more importantly the community thought we were doing good work,” she said. “Not only were we testing at the North County site, but you could call us, and we would come to you because we were mobile.”
When it comes to her success, Sanford credits her team for their hard work in addition to how the community motivates her to make a difference.
“I was very impressed with them because they got out there and really served the community. You can only be as good as your team will support and the community motivates me to serve them,” she said.
The people who work around Sanford have expressed how she genuinely cares for each patient she and her team touch.
“She goes the extra mile of even spending weekends to notify patients of their COVID-19 status. Dr. Tifani Sanford has enthusiastically served the community and continues to this day without fear or reservation. This information does not capture the day-to-day contributions she brings to the table,” Carl Green, Director of Marketing and Communications of the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers, said.
To date, Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers has vaccinated thousands of St. Louis Metropolitan residents with at least one dose, according to a statement.
Testing is available at the North County site on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Wednesday from 9 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets for the 22nd Annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 14 at the Frontenac Hilton are $800 per table of 8 for VIP/Corporate seating or $100 each, and $75 each or $600 per table of 8 for general seating. To order tickets, call (314) 533-8000 or visit www.stlamerican.com.